The Turkish election as a warning against the irresistible charms of populism

Spyros Sofos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the fact that we are witnessing the emergence of a populist Zeitgeist worldwide, we run the danger of developing conceptual and operational definitions of populism that do not meet the theoretical challenges of the phenomenon or the political exigencies of our time. Yet there are sufficient commonalities in what appears to be a cacophonic universe made up by exclusivist movements and parties that construct definitions of the situation along phobic lines, to compel us to develop a deeper theory and a more clearly demarcated concept of populism. This would allow us to draw a clear line between populist politics and a ‘skin-deep’ rhetoric that is inspired by the emergence and relative success of populist movements as in the case of the adoption of some aspects of populist discourse by mainstream political parties as I have suggested elsewhere. There is no doubt of the utility of the existing theoretical frameworks. What we need however is a rigorous and constructive debate on how we can develop an understanding of populism that has a critical edge and a conceptual definition that adequately situates the latter vis a vis other concepts and conceptual frameworks. This paper attempts to suggest ways of moving forward in understanding and analysing populism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Democracy
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 13

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • Populism
  • Turkey
  • political theory


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